When the tone drops, some departments make as much commotion as possible to alert motorists of their presence. Others opt to run quiet and blend in with traffic for some calls. Much of this decision is guided by state law and SOPs.
Noisy fire trucks are ruining the neighborhood's serenity, but I have a solution
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So we put it to our readers to tell us how their departments handle the loud vs. quiet debate. We had plenty of responses, and here are 11 of the more interesting ones. Please, add your own in the comment section.
"We have some calls that we consider non-emergency. But if it warrants lights, then it warrants siren. Georgia law states 'audible and visual.' Too many lawsuits out there to not follow state law." — Jeff Bennett
"Never. That doesn't happen." — Rupak Paul
"If I had my way, we'd never use them. Inexperienced drivers get reckless and it doesn't enhance response time in the downtown area with all the stop signs and traffic signals. Sad to say, people don't respect them and freak out when they do see or hear them." — Gillian Hurlburt Cox
"Yes in ice and slick road conditions — for safer driving by us and oncoming traffic." — Richard Myers
"We run without lights or sirens if it's an humane call for like a cat up a tree here in the U.K." — Ray C. Smith
"We shut some lights off when its snowing hard because of visibility reasons." — Ernie Berry
"Any non-life-threatening run: CO alarms in symptoms, non-emergency EMS runs, trees down, discretion of officer in charge, etc." — Tom Lange
"As the officer, I won't let my driver use the lights in severe fog at night (too much reflection back into our eyes). We'll sound the siren as we approach intersections to warn other drivers." — David Rossman
"We shut it down in school zones — don't need the kids running out in front of us." — Michael L. Staton
"We have a causeway in the area that is over a mile long. It is two lanes with no shoulders. If you try running lights and sirens, the drivers you encounter panic and stop right in the roadway. With oncoming traffic there is no place to go. It's easier and safer to just slow down and turn off the lights and siren." — Ronnie Hinze
"Sure, all the time, on the way back to the station after a call." Tyler Sitzer
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Larry BenningWednesday, December 18, 2013 5:15:21 AMWe will run with lights only in the middle of the night to avoid waking up the whole town
Robert FaughWednesday, December 18, 2013 7:45:45 PMRun Red only to PROBABLE Life threat emergencies - 10% of the calls. Non-emergency the other 90%. No lights or siren in snow or ice conditions. Worked for us for 20 years.....
Thursday, December 19, 2013 9:02:49 AMWe run lights and siren to the scene when the nature of the emergency reported justifies the danger that emergency responses pose to us and the public.
Roy JohnsenFriday, December 20, 2013 1:10:11 PMOur area is so small we don't use siren much but do use lights all the time
Will McPhersonSaturday, December 21, 2013 4:03:47 PMOnly if call has been dispatched as non emergency. All other calls are lights and siren. Siren optional depending on time of night with no traffic.
Oakland Rural Fire DistrictSaturday, December 21, 2013 4:08:41 PMWe run Code 3 during lighted hours. After dark we usually run Code 1 unless it's warranted. We respect the sleeping public. Also during snow and Ice we run Code 1 until we arrive on scene to prevent people from causing another accident getting out of our way.
Jim ReginelliSaturday, December 21, 2013 4:09:51 PMive had lt's shut of the siren cause they hate the noise
Corbin DoadesSaturday, December 21, 2013 4:11:13 PMIf we are called for a possible suicide we won't run lights and siren. Most of the time they have already committed and we are there to verify before coroner shows. At night, we turn our wig-wags off and run lights only to not disturb the community unless there is heavy traffic.
Harold ConnorSaturday, December 21, 2013 4:21:09 PMNon emergency calls, some investigations with no health reported problems, AFA's the first due piece goes lights the others go non emergency, calls for MVA stand by's, wires and some others.
Bob SteinmetzSaturday, December 21, 2013 4:30:14 PMsucides and mental health calls
James GarlockSaturday, December 21, 2013 5:26:38 PMIn the state of Ky must use lights and sirens except for the meat wagons, Everyone else has to run code 3 unless dispatch tells you otherwise.
William CanimoreSaturday, December 21, 2013 6:32:05 PMwe also run with out sirens at midnight unless we get into cars we but most the time there is no need the lights do just fine and if u turn the siren on your adredlin gone and u my not be focie on getting there safe because u don't do any 1 good if u get there dead and also the siren sture up the dree and they my jump out infront ove u also
Daniel GregorySaturday, December 21, 2013 11:27:02 PMIn Australia we have 2 options Code 1 means everything going, airhorns blasting.. Code 3 is a quiet run within all road law. The OIC has the right to upgrade the call to Code 1 or if multiple appliances are responding from the 3rd responding onwards they are code 3 unless the job OIC calls everyone on Code 1.
Dave KoppenhaverSunday, December 22, 2013 7:50:24 AMWe run the majority of our calls class 3 (NO lights or sirens) We turn lights on when we arrive on scene if needed. About the only calls we run lights and sirens are structure fires vehicle accidents with injuries and entrapment and med assist for cardiac arrest.
Dalton Lee GregorySunday, December 22, 2013 8:21:08 AMNo lights and sirens to non-emergency calls: tree down, cat in a tree, lift assist, etc.
Often no siren late at night or early in the morning. We're very rural, so between midnight and 5:00, there is hardly any traffic and we have only one traffic light. So running a siren would only serve to wake up the sleeping public.
Anthony KilroyWednesday, December 25, 2013 5:29:12 PMwe have a street that runs the whole length of town with few stops signs that during the middle of the night we dont run sirens on, but we will run lights. we try not to use sirens past 2200 hrs to avoid waking up the whole town unless they are necessary, for a true emergency.